BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has fielded calls on hundreds of subjects during his monthly "Ask the Governor" radio show. But this call was one of a kind.
"Uh, Governor, this is Barack Obama, formerly of Somerville," the caller began Thursday. "I've got a few complaints about service in and around the neighborhood, but I've moved down South since that time."
The president was indeed calling in to WGBH-FM to congratulate Patrick, a friend and political ally who's wrapping up two terms in office. Obama once lived in the Boston suburb of Somerville, while attending Harvard Law School.
Patrick sounded surprised and initially unconvinced that it really was Obama on the phone and not an impersonator. And he gently chided the president for a slight stumble in pronouncing the state's name.
"You know, there's a little lisp thing that develops when I say Massachusetts. I know how to spell it, though," Obama joked.
"Indeed you do," responded Patrick. "And you know where it is. You've been a great friend to all of us. Thank you."
It was Patrick's last "Ask the Governor" segment, a once-a-month part of a talk show hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. The Democrat, who did not seek re-election, leaves office Jan. 8. His successor is Charlie Baker, a Republican.
Obama praised Patrick for the state's success in student achievement, health care access, clean energy and having a balanced budget — though on that final count the president may not have known the state currently faces a deficit the governor's office puts at $329 million but others say could be higher.
"You started with an outstanding state, but you have burnished it and polished it and, most importantly, you have gotten people involved," the president said.
The governor said those words meant a lot to him. The state's first black governor, Patrick himself has been mentioned as a possible future White House contender, though he has ruled out a bid in 2016.
As the call ended, Braude poked fun at the president over past reports of 17 parking tickets he racked up while attending Harvard. Obama assured the host he had paid them all.
"Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to step into the Commonwealth without getting arrested," he joked.